On Embracing the Messy Methodology of Ethnographic Fieldwork with Older Adults

This is a Hybrid event. We welcome colleagues to 66 Banbury Road or on line via Zoom

Ethnographic fieldwork employs a variety of strategies and techniques that attempt to bring to light a holistic view of complex human experiences as they unfold in the stream of everyday life. It typically entails a slow process of building relationships with a relatively small number of key interlocutors over time, accompanying them in day to day activities in order to better understand their perspectives and understandings of the world, rather than imposing a predetermined theoretical framework on them. Rather than seeking to control the environment and interactions in which data is collected, ethnography often works best when it embraces the unexpected, messy contradictions and uncertainties of life. Drawing on my experiences over four years of fieldwork research with older adults in Japan since 2005, this talk reflects on the unique insights about ageing that can arise through the process of ethnographic fieldwork, as well as its challenges and limitations. In doing so, I argue that our methodological approaches should be placed in constant dialogue with our research questions, and these in turn, can reveal the values that underlie our work with older adults.